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Cross-cultural adjustment and the expatriate spouse: A case study

Dissertation
Author: Maria de Guadalupe Hedo Ortega de Pamich
Abstract:
Cross-cultural adjustment is often considered the key intervening factor leading to expatriate failure. Research has also found a strong correlation between expatriate and spouse adjustment. Failure of the spouse to adjust to the new environment was given as the number one factor for premature returns. The number two reason was the employee's failure to adjust. Until recently, few studies had examined the adjustment of expatriate employees. The adjustment of expatriates' spouses has received even less attention. For this reason, the study of spouse adjustment offers a potential contribution to the field of international business, since it represents a major gap in the existing cross-cultural adjustment literature. This conceptual gap is the focus of the present research. If spouse adjustment is indeed related to expatriate adjustment and to the outcome of the international assignment, it is important to study the factors that facilitate or inhibit spouse cross-cultural adjustment. By doing so, organizations may gain critical knowledge for influencing the outcomes of international assignments and improve their human resource practices. In an effort to understand the factors that facilitate or inhibit spousal cross-cultural adjustment, this study will examine the role of different variables believed to influence the spouses' adjustment, on a group of expatriate spouses living in Switzerland.

v Table of Contents Acknowledgements iv List of Tables viii CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction to the Problem 1 Background of the Study 2 Statement of the Problem 3 Rationale for the Study 3 Purpose of the Study 4 Significance of the Study 4 Research Questions/Hypotheses 5 Theoretical Framework 5 Definition of Terms 8 Hypotheses 11 Summary 12 Nature of the Study 12 Assumptions and Limitations 13 Organization of the Remainder of the Study 13 CHAPTER 2.LITERATURE REVIEW 15 Introduction 15 Rationale for the Research 16

vi Theory Generating the Questions and Exploring the Foundations of the Field 16 Hypotheses’ Relationship to Major Literature Themes 22 How the Research Will Contribute to the Field 29 CHAPTER 3.METHODOLOGY 30 Researcher's Role and Philosophy 30 Theoretical Framework 31 Research Design 31 Sampling Design 32 Measurement 33 Data Collection,Including Researcher’s Participation 37 Data Analysis Procedures 38 Limitations of Methodology 39 Expected Findings 39 Conclusion 40 CHAPTER 4.RESULTS AND ANALYSIS 41 Presentation of the Data 41 Research Design 41 Data Analysis 42 Limitations 55 CHAPTER 5.RESULTS,CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 56 Summary 56

vii Discussion of the Results 57 Conclusions 64 Recommendations 67 REFERENCES 70 APPENDIX A:DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENT 78 APPENDIX B:TABLES 81 APPENDIX C:QUESTIONNAIRE 85

viii List of Tables Table 1:Theoretical Framework for the Study 7 Table 2:Correlation Matrix of All Variables to “Adjustment” 43 Table B1.Key Statistics and One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test:Adjustment 81 Table B2:Inter-ItemCorrelation Matrix:Adjustment Scale 82 Table B3.Key Statistics,One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test:Culture Novelty 83 Table B4:Inter-ItemCorrelation Matrix:Culture Novelty 84

CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION Introduction to the Problem Cross-cultural adjustment is the degree of comfort,familiarity and ease that an individual feels toward a new cultural environment (Takeuchi et al.,2002).Cross-cultural adjustment -or simply,adjustment- is one of the most common issues in the field of cross-cultural management; and it represents an important area of scholarly inquiry due to the substantial impact that it has on organizations (Takeuchi et al.,2002).Many researchers consider this construct an important variable of study because of its effects on performance and functioning for expatriates and sojourners (Robie &Ryan,1996),and because"poor cross-cultural adjustment"is a common reason for premature termination of global assignments (Tung,1981;Caliguri,et al.,1998). Management studies have reported a strong correlation between expatriate and spouse adjustment,and they acknowledge the important role that the spouse plays on the expatriate failure rate (Torbion,1982;Church,1982;Mendenhall et al.,1987;Black and Stephens,1989b). Some studies found that the failure of the spouse to adjust to the new environment was given as the number one factor for premature returns (Black &Stephens,1989a;Fitzgerald-Turner, 1997).The number two reason was the employee's failure to adjust (Tung,1981). Since the spouse plays a major role in an expatriate's effective adjustment to a foreign assignment,the issue of the spouse's cross-cultural adaptation is a topic that deserves attention and investigation.The more recent literature on expatriate adjustment has stressed the adjustment difficulties of female expatriates and the need to include the spouse in the planning and training phases (Punnett,1997;Simeon &Fujiu,2000).

Cross-cultural Adjustment 2 Background of the Study The increasingly global business environment has led to a greater need for international business research because it is very important to understand what contributes to success and failure in international management.The number of expatriates sent overseas has increased over the past decade and the trend is likely to continue (Mervosh and McClenahen,1997).However, not all expatriate assignments are successful,as reflected by the expatriate failure rate,whereby an expatriate is recalled or voluntarily returns to the parent's company before the end of the assignment period.The real cost of expatriate failure goes beyond monetary expenses.For this reason,it is vital to gain a better understanding of the cross-cultural adjustment process,in order to understand the causes of expatriate failure;and to find ways to both minimize and avoid it (Takeuchi et al.,2002). Cross-cultural adjustment,whether expatriate,spousal or family,is often considered the key intervening factor leading to expatriate failure (Adler,1997;Dowling et al.,1999;Takeuchi, 2002).Black and Mendenhall (1989) report that poorly adjusted employees often return prematurely fromtheir cross-cultural assignment,whereas well-adjusted employees are generally more effective (Harrison et al,1996).Past reviews have consistently supported the importance of the spousal or family factor on expatriate adjustment (Church,1982;Mendenhall &Oddou, 1985).Black and Stephens (1989a) concluded that there is a positive and significant relationship between the adjustment of expatriates and spouses.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 3 Statement of the Problem Studies have shown that the spouse is a major factor responsible for expatriate failure abroad (Tung,1986).Black (1989) claims that:"American MNC's cite the inability of spouses to adjust as a major factor for expatriate employees'lack of adjustment and the resulting higher probability of returning prematurely".Multinational companies,therefore,face the challenging task of addressing the problemof how to facilitate the cross-cultural adjustment of expatriates. One of the major gaps that exist in the cross-cultural adjustment literature is that previous research has been conducted mostly on expatriates.Very few studies have focused on the expatriate spouses.Indeed,the focus of attention when talking about cross-cultural adaptation is usually the expatriate:if there is any training before departure,it is more likely to have been directed at the expatriate,not the spouse.For these reasons,the issue of the spouses'cross- cultural adaptation seems worthy of investigation or research. Studying the spouse population would,therefore,fill a gap that has been identified in the existing literature.Furthermore,no research has explicitly addressed the issue of whether the construct of adjustment has similar dimensions across cultures (Robie and Ryan,1996).It is logical to assume that expatriates from any culture should face the same issues when adjusting to a culture other than their own.However,the importance of these issues and the degree to which they are interrelated may vary among cultures. Rationale for the Study If spouse adjustment is indeed related to expatriate adjustment,and to the outcome of the international assignment,it is important to study the factors that facilitate or inhibit spouse cross-

Cross-cultural Adjustment 4 cultural adjustment.The study of spouse adjustment,as opposed to expatriate adjustment, represents a contribution to the existing cross-cultural adjustment literature. Since family-related situations can impact an expatriate's ability to adjust and perform effectively,human resources strategy should include family issues when preparing executives for international assignments (Simeon &Fujiu,2000).One of the major problems that Human Resources Departments face in the expatriate selection and training process is the inadequate understanding of the relevant variables of expatriate adjustment process,and the ensuing inappropriate selection and training methods (Mendenhall &Oddou,1995).This is yet another reason to pursue research in this area. Purpose of the Study Certain variables have been found to influence expatriate adjustment.This study seeks to explore whether these variables hold true for expatriate spouses as well.The purpose of this study,therefore,is to explore the role that certain factors play on the spousal cross-cultural adjustment process.In an effort to understand how these (independent) variables influence the dependent variable (cross-cultural adjustment);a series of survey measurements would be applied to a group of expatriate spouses. Significance of the Study A clearer understanding of the factors that facilitate the expatriate acculturation process could help organizations gain critical knowledge to reduce the failure of international assignments and improve their human resource practices (Takeuchi et al.,2002).Cross-cultural

Cross-cultural Adjustment 5 adjustment studies could also aid personnel directors in the selection of personnel and the design of training programs. Studies that focus on the expatriate experience can contribute to the field of international business by providing a useful database for firms who are considering sending personnel abroad. The aimwould be to provide preliminary guidelines for companies who plan to assign expatriates to international assignments (Barratt,2001). Research Questions/Hypotheses This study will examine the role of different variables on the spouses'adjustment process in an attempt to answer the following questions:(1) which factors facilitate or inhibit spousal cross-cultural adjustment?and (2) what measures can be taken to improve cross-cultural adaptation?To answer these questions several hypotheses have been formulated. Theoretical Framework The cross-cultural adjustment literature suggests that the spouse's adjustment is a potential influence on the expatriate employee's adjustment.Different pressures faced by the spouses can make culture shock more intense than that faced by the expatriate.Even when an expatriate may possess the necessary skills for a successful international assignment,if his or her spouse does not possess the same skills and is unable to adjust to the new culture,the assignment may fail (Black,Mendenhall &Oddou,1991). Expatriates are usually more"insulated"fromthe local culture,whereas the spouses are more “isolated” and exposed to cultural adjustment challenges,having to operate and interact in

Cross-cultural Adjustment 6 the local community on a daily basis.In management-type positions,which involve more extensive contact with the local community,as opposed to more technical positions,the adaptability of the spouse to a new environment is perceived as important for successful performance abroad (Tung,1979).For this reason,it seems that having a spouse for social support is an advantage that married expatriates have over their single counterparts (Black et al., 1999). An overseas assignment can represent a major challenge for many spouses for many reasons.For example,a career interruption can lead to dissatisfaction,which in turn,can spillover and have a negative effect on the satisfaction of the expatriate (Torbiorn,1982;Black, 1989).This is because international transfers imply a substantial career interruption for career- oriented spouses,who may experience both financial and psychological losses.Spouses who are unsuccessful in finding employment abroad may experience marital dissatisfaction and become a negative influence on the expatriate's cross-cultural adjustment.Examples like this one provide sufficient cause for concern about the influence of the spouse on success or failure of international assignments (Stephens &Black,1991). A review of the literature has pointed out four general categories into which various antecedents of adjustment can be placed (Black,1991;Church,1982;Mendenhall &Oddou, 1985;Stening,1979).These are:1) individual factors,2) job factors,3) organizational factors, and 4) non-work factors.Whereas expatriates are influenced by these four categories of factors, spouses who do not work are only influenced by individual,organizational and non-work factors. Furthermore,adjustment is a multi-faceted concept consisting of three facets:work adjustment, interaction adjustment,and general adjustment.Similarly,whereas expatriates adjust to all three

Cross-cultural Adjustment 7 of these facets of adjustment,spouses who do not work adjust to interacting with host nationals and to the general environment only (Black &Stephens,1989b). Because it is the purpose of this study to expand upon previous work,all of the factors that research has found to influence cross-cultural adjustment will not be examined.This study specifically examines eight factors that Black,Mendenhall and Oddou (1991) have found to influence the three facets of expatriate adjustment.These factors are:culture novelty,motivation, previous international experience,language,willingness to communicate,standard of living, training and organizational support.These factors have been chosen,not only because this study seeks to find out whether they influence spouse adjustment as well;but also because they fit into the theoretical framework of adjustment antecedents for the spouses mentioned above.The theoretical framework for this study is presented in Table 1. Table1.Theoretical Framework for the Study ________________________________________________________________ Adjustment ________________________________________________________________ Antecedents Factors 1) Individual factors a) motivation b) willingness to communicate c) language d) previous international experience 2) Non-work factors a) culture novelty b) standard of living 3) Organizational factors a) organizational support b) training 4) Job factors (not applicable to spouses)

Cross-cultural Adjustment 8 To summarize,based on the cross-cultural adjustment literature,it seems that a number of factors might influence the degree of cross-cultural adjustment.Most of the theory about adjustment assumes that differences in factors cause differences in adjustment (Black,1990c). Since the purpose of this study is to deepen our understanding of the spousal cross-cultural adjustment process,the factors believed to have an influence on spouse adjustment will be defined and analyzed. This study begins with an examination of the relevant literature.Based on this material, several hypotheses are presented.The results of the cross-cultural adjustment survey of spouses are presented and managerial implications are discussed. Definition of Terms This section will define a set of independent variables to be used in this study,as well as a single dependent variable:cross-cultural adjustment of the spouse. Cross-cultural adjustment.This termhas been conceptualised as the degree of comfort, familiarity and ease that an individual feels toward a new cultural environment (Takeuchi et al., 2002).Cross-cultural adjustment,expatriate adjustment or simply,adjustment,will be used interchangeably. Culture novelty.Also known as culture toughness (Black et al.,1991;Mendenhall & Oddou,1985) or cultural distance (Church,1982),refers to the cultural difference between the host culture and the home culture.Culture novelty is believed to influence the adjustment of the spouse.The more novel the culture is,the more difficult it is for the spouse to adjust (Black, 1989).

Cross-cultural Adjustment 9 Language.Language is probably one of the most difficult cultural factors that a sojourner must deal with,because it entails not only speaking and understanding the language per se,but also the challenge and subtleties of non-verbal communication as well.Communicating effectively,therefore,requires more than sending and receiving messages.Ferraro (1996,p.46) says that effective communication requires"an understanding of how people feel,think and behave". Motivation.The attitude that an individual has toward living abroad is an important factor in the willingness to relocate because the individual's attitude toward foreign living will influence his or her adjustment efforts and level of interaction (Simeon &Fujiu,2000).If a candidate is not interested in living abroad,no amount of training can adequately prepare an individual for cross-cultural experiences (Tung,1981). Organizational support.Firms differ in their support of the executive and his or her family overseas.A firmcan do many things to support its employees abroad.Some organized social systems include company orientations,the use of mentors who provide informal counseling,the sponsorship of social gatherings,language training,relocation assistance,job placement assistance programs fro the spouse,and the integration to local support systems such as religious congregations,sports or special-interest clubs,etc. Very few companies have a formal policy of spouse job-finding assistance.A number of viable alternatives exist for organizations to help spouses find jobs.For example,job counseling, job placement programs,and pooling available positions in a geographically-based consortiumof companies (Stephens &Black,1991)

Cross-cultural Adjustment 10 Previous international experience.Many researchers have shown that previous international experience facilitates cross-cultural adjustment because it should provide an individual some basis to extrapolate information that could help the sojourner predict what to expect and reduce the uncertainty associated with the new international assignment (Black, 1990a,p.113). Standard of living.Living conditions are a potentially important determinant of spouse cross-cultural adjustment (Black,1991).Since the majority of spouses do not work during the international assignment,they spend a significant amount of time at home,or engaged in activities directly related to the home (Harvey,1985;Black,1991).For this reason,the living conditions that the spouses must face represent an important adjustment antecedent. Training.Some scholars believe that training is more important for the spouse than for the executive because it is the spouse that experiences extreme changes “a postponed career,a different language,different stores and shopping habits,a lack of friends and family upon which to rely on,and so on” (Mendenhall &Oddou,1988,p.82).For this reason,the wise firmshould include an appraisal of the spouse’s likelihood to succeed overseas,as well as provide training for her.Research has shown that cross-cultural training facilitates cross-cultural adjustment (Tung,1981;Black &Mendenhall,1989;Black,1989). Willingness to communicate.This is an important predictor of cross-cultural adjustment (Mendenhall &Oddou,1985).Thus,it is expected that willingness to communicate will be positively related to adjustment.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 11 Hypotheses H1.Motivation:it is hypothesized that the spouses’ degree of motivation will be positively related to their ability to adapt to different cultural settings. H2.Willingness to communicate:it is expected that willingness to communicate will be positively related to adjustment. H3.Language:it is believed that he more fluent a person is in the host country's language,the more likely he will feel comfortable to move around and to engage in interactions with host nationals,which leads to better adjustment.Therefore,it is expected that language proficiency is directly related to adjustment. H4.Previous international experience is believed to facilitate cross-cultural adjustment because it could help thempredict what to expect and reduce the uncertainty associated with the new international assignment. H5.Culture novelty:the more culturally novel a foreigner's perception of the host culture is,the less adjusted the foreigner will be.Therefore,perceived culture novelty will be negatively related to adjustment. H6.Standard of living:it is hypothesized that the more similar the living conditions as those before the assignment,the easier the adjustment will be. H7.Organizational support in the formof logistical support (housing,schools,language training,etc.) reduces uncertainty and facilitates cross-cultural adjustment.Thus,it is expected that logistical support will be positively associated with the degree of adjustment. H8.Training:it is believed that the more training a spouse receives fromthe organization,the better prepared she will be to face the new culture,and the better adjustment.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 12 Summary Research has provided empirical evidence for the critical role that adjustment plays during international assignments (Takeuchi et al.,2002).Expatriate adjustment,in turn,has been strongly linked to non-work factors.The spouse plays a major role in effective adjustment of an expatriate to a foreign assignment (Black et al.,1989).The success of the spouse's adaptation has been found to affect performance on a number of levels (Adler,1986).An expatriate's spouse is one of the most critical determinants of whether an expatriate completes his or her assignment (Caliguri et al.,1998).For this reason,it is important to examine the factors that could influence adjustment. Nature of the Study This study seeks to explore whether certain variables that influence expatriate adjustment hold true for expatriate spouses as well.In an effort to understand how these (independent) variables influence the dependent variable (cross-cultural adjustment);a series of survey measurements would be applied to a group of expatriate spouses.An ideal target group for this study is available at an International School in Switzerland (the name is omitted for confidentiality purposes). The nature of the study was that of a case study with a quantitative methodological approach.Case study research is one of the most cited references in management research.As Creswell (1994,p.127) pointed out,a researcher may choose to use a convenience sample because an entire group of individuals (e.g.,an organization,a family unit,a classroom) is available to participate in the study.In this case,the population of this institution would be

Cross-cultural Adjustment 13 available for study,thus enabling the researcher to conduct a case study.This institution is optimal for two reasons.First,it is located in the diplomatic center of Switzerland,where embassies are based and where a good mix of nationalities is represented.For this reason,this institution has a high concentration of international students representing numerous nationalities. So this population has a good representation of expatriates and a good mix of nationalities in Switzerland. Assumptions and Limitations Caution needs to be exercised when assuming the study's ability to provide a general picture of expatriate adjustment in a given region or country.Even though the sample that was used represented the entire population of a single case study,it may not provide a general picture of expatriate adjustment.Larger scale studies with larger group,more cultural representation, and more demographic information accounted for could provide more generalizable information regarding the adjustment process of different groups of expatriates in different geographical locations. Organization of the Remainder of the Study The second chapter of this study is a literature review that explores the theories representing the foundations of the field,as well as the research questions'relationship to major literature themes.Previous theories and models explaining the cross-cultural adjustment process will be discussed.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 14 The third chapter will focus on the methodological aspect of the study.It will explain the researcher's philosophy or knowledge claims for inquiry choice.The theoretical framework will be detailed,beginning with the research questions and objectives.Next,the research design strategy will be explained,including sampling design,data collection and data analysis procedures.The limitations of the methodology will also be discussed.Chapter 4 will present the findings.Chapter 5 will discuss the results and provide conclusions and recommendations for future research.

CHAPTER 2.LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Cross-cultural adjustment research has been going on for over 30 years.The literature on cross-cultural adjustment has emerged fromstudies of culture shock,employee turnover and work-family issues.Initially,research was conducted on Peace Corps volunteers and exchange students,but limited work was done on expatriates.Contemporary research on cross-cultural adjustment seems to have begun with Lysgaard's study of the adjustment of Norwegian students with Fullbright scholarships in study in the United States.Later,Oberg (1960) introduced the notion of"culture shock",which is the natural outcome of adjusting to a new culture, characterized by symptoms like anxiety,irritability and psychological discomfort (Black,1990c). Researchers found that not everybody experienced the same degree of adjustment or culture shock,so the investigation of the personal characteristics that might influence successful from unsuccessful sojourners began (Mendenhall &Oddou,1985). Researchers focused their efforts on the problem of expatriate adjustment since the late 1970's.During the 1980's there was an increase in research on cross-cultural adjustment. The primary driving force behind expatriate research has been the relatively high rates of expatriate failure,defined as the percentage of employees who return home before completing the assignment,as well as the high costs of premature returns (Black,1990a;Tung,1981). Studies on employee turnover have also provided some insights into the reasons for expatriate failure.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 16 Rationale for the Research Cross-cultural adjustment represents an important area of scholarly inquiry due to the substantial impact that it has on organizations as well as on the individuals'international assignments (Takeuchi et al.,2002).Whereas “technical expertise” and having a proven"track record"were overwhelmingly the primary selection criteria of American MNCs (Tung,1981; Mendenhall &Oddou,1985),Japanese firms gave high importance to the use of"adjustment"as a critical criterion for selecting expatriates (Tung,1981;Black,1990b). Since the spouse plays a major role in an expatriate's effective adjustment to a foreign assignment,the issue of the spouse's cross-cultural adaptation is a topic that deserves attention and investigation.It is also worthwhile because of its potential contribution to the field of international business to provide a useful database for firms who are considering sending personnel abroad,and to provide preliminary guidelines to ensure that the organization's personnel be equipped to deal with cultural differences. Theory Generating the Questions and Exploring the Foundations of the Field Several gaps exist in the cross-cultural adjustment literature.Although previous research has been conducted on American or Japanese expatriates,very few have studied the spouses’ cross-cultural adjustment.In addition,Black (1990c) suggests that"further research is needed which includes expatriates fromvarious nationalities in various foreign countries in order to develop general as well as situational models of adjustments and important antecedents” (p. 133). In contrast to what is known about employees,very little is known about the specific factors that affect the cross-cultural adjustment of their spouses,yet ppoor spouse adjustment is

Cross-cultural Adjustment 17 the greatest cause for expatriate failure (Black et al.,1999).As previously mentioned,whereas the employee has a built-in structure in his organization and job,the spouse is usually on her own. Before reviewing the factors that researchers have found to be related to cross-cultural adjustment,the general process of adjustment,as well as the theoretical framework that explains why certain factors would be expected to influence adjustment will be discussed. Facets of Adjustment Until recently,most of the research conceptualized and measured cross-cultural adjustment as a unitary phenomenon.However,Black and Stephens (1989) viewed adjustment as a multi-faceted concept and found empirical evidence for three facets of cross-cultural adjustment:work adjustment,interaction adjustment,and general adjustment.General adjustment refers to the psychological comfort relating to factors of the host cultural environment such as weather,living conditions and food;work adjustment involves the psychological comfort involving different work values,expectations and standards;and interactional adjustment refers to adjustment to different communication styles in the host cultures and to interpersonal communication with host country nationals.Thus,adjustment can be measured in terms of adjustment to the general environment,to the work situation,or to interacting with host nationals (Black,1990a). The expatriate adjustment process is not only influenced by work factors (Black & Stephens,1989;Dawis & Lofquist,1984;Feldman,1976;Nicholson,1984),but by non-work factors as well (Church,1982;Black 1989),the major one being the spouse adjustment.Whereas expatriates adjust to work,to interacting with host nationals,and to the general,foreign

Cross-cultural Adjustment 18 environment;spouses who do not work adjust to interacting with host nationals and to the general environment only (Black &Stephens,1989b). Factors Related to Expatriate Adjustment To better understand the cross-cultural adjustment process,certain factors which scholars have found to influence cross-cultural adjustment,will be examined.The cross-cultural adjustment literature has identified four general categories into which various antecedents of adjustment can be placed.These are:1) individual factors,2) job factors,3) organizational factors,and 4) non-work factors (Church,1982;Black &Gregersen,1991). Research in cross-cultural adjustment indicates that a successful overseas assignment depends upon the possession of specific skills (Church,1982,Mendenhall &Oddou,1985,p.39; Stening,1979).These skills can be categorized into three categories:personal skills,people skills and perception skills.Personal skills facilitate the sojourner's mental and emotional well-being. Prayer,meditation and other techniques aimed at reducing the level of stress are examples of personal skills.People skills are the techniques that facilitate interaction with others.The willingness to communicate with others,and the desire to learn a foreign language (even when no necessary) are examples of people skills that facilitate intercultural adjustment.Perception skills refer to the cognitive processes that help sojourners understand why foreigners behave the way they do.They include the consciousness of social cues and behaviors,the attentiveness to them,and the ability to imitate what is perceived. A vast number of personal characteristics or dimensions have been consistently identified as important in reviews of the literature on cross-cultural adjustment (Church,1982,Mendenhall &Oddou,1985;Stening,1979).In particular five personal dimensions have been identified as

Cross-cultural Adjustment 19 important determinants of adjustment:cultural flexibility,social orientation,willingness to communicate,ethnocentricity,conflict resolution orientation,etc.,(Black,1990;Mendenhall & Oddou,1985;Stening,1979).The dimensions of expatriate adjustment seemto hold generally for female as well as for male sojourners (Mendenhall &Oddou,1985).The basic premise in the literature as to the importance of these personal dimensions is that individuals must be aware and be willing to execute new behaviors which are appropriate in the new cultural context,and that certain personal dimensions either facilitate or inhibit this process (Black,1990b). Personal characteristics and dimensions,however,are not the only variables that the literature has identified as influencing adjustment.Other factors that scholars have found to influence expatriate cross-cultural adjustment are:previous international experience (Black, 1988),educational level (Tung,1982;Gomez-Mejia &Balkin,1987),time in the host country (Black,1988;Gullahorn &Gullahorn,1962;Torbiorn,1982),language proficiency,previous knowledge of the host culture (Takeuchi et al,2002;Jassawalla et al.,2004),tolerance for ambiguity or stress (Hammer et al.,1978;Ruben and Kealey,1979;Stening and Hammer,1992), non-ethnocentrism(Black,1991a;Hawes and Kealey,1981;Nishida,1985),empathy,respect (Ruben and Kealey,1979,Rhinesmith,1970,Elashmawi),emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1998),communication and interpersonal skills (Abe and Wiseman,1983;Hawes and Kealey, 1981;Stening and Hammer,1992). Some of the factors that the cross-cultural literature has found to have a specific influence on the degree of expatriate adjustment are:previous knowledge of the culture,language proficiency,willingness to communicate,culture novelty (Mendenhall &Oddou,1985;Stening, 1979),previous international experience (Black,1988),company support and training.In an

Cross-cultural Adjustment 20 effort to expand upon previous work,these variables,believed to be important for expatriate adjustment to other cultures (Greenholtz,2000),will now be studied in a spouse population. Past studies have suggested that demographic variables can affect the outcome of an international assignment (Church,1992;Caliguri et al.,1998).For this reason,demographic factors such as educational level (Gomez-Mejia &Balkin,1987;Tung,1982),age and years married will also be considered. Stages of Adjustment One of the most common descriptions of the adjustment process of sojourners within a host culture is the U-Curve Theory of Adjustment,whereby the cross-cultural adjustment process leads to a U-shaped curve of adjustment,in which the bottomof the curve is the strongest point of culture shock (Black &Gregersen,1991).This theory involves four stages of adjustment. Authors such as Black and Mendenhall (1990) and David (1976) included a social learning perspective to this theoretical framework by adding four learning processes to the four stages. The first stage occurs during the first few weeks after arrival in the foreign country,and the individual is fascinated by the new culture.It has been referred to as the honeymoon stage.From a learning perspective,individuals have not yet received feedback about what behaviors are appropriate in the new culture and which are not. The second stage begins when the sojourner has to seriously cope with daily life in the new culture.It is often called the culture shock or the disillusionment stage.It is characterized by anxiety,frustration and hostility.Froma learning perspective,the individuals have begun to receive negative feedback about their inappropriate behaviors,but they do not know how what appropriate behaviors to substitute themwith,thus causing stress.

Cross-cultural Adjustment 21 In the third stage the individual gradually adapts to the norms and values of the host country,experiencing more positive feelings about the new culture.In terms of learning theory, individuals in this stage have begun to develop skills necessary to execute appropriate behaviors for the host culture.This is also called the adjustment stage. The last stage,also called the mastery stage,is where the individual is able to effectively function in the new culture,thus reducing the associated uncertainty. Based on this theoretical framework,Black (1988) concluded that the factors which facilitated or inhibited adjustment could be categorized according to the extent to which they increased or reduced the uncertainty associated with the adjustment. In summary,the entire adjustment process involves the principle whereby the individual reduces uncertainty by replacing old,inappropriate behaviors with new,appropriate behaviors,in order to"function effectively"in a new cultural setting (Black,1990a,p.112). Components of the Adjustment Process Mendenhall and Oddou (1985) identified four components of the expatriate adjustment process:the"self-oriented"dimension,the"others-oriented"dimension;the"perceptual" dimension;and the"cultural-toughness"dimension (p.40).The self-oriented dimension includes activities that serve to strengthen the sojourner's self-esteem,self-confidence and mental hygiene.For instance,the foreigner who is able to find parallel substitutes for his or her interests in the new culture -reinforcement substitution- is more likely to be successful at adjusting to the new setting.The others-oriented dimension comprises activities that enhance the sojourner's ability to interact effectively with host nationals,such as relationship development and willingness to communicate.The perceptual dimension encompasses the ability to understand

Full document contains 98 pages
Abstract: Cross-cultural adjustment is often considered the key intervening factor leading to expatriate failure. Research has also found a strong correlation between expatriate and spouse adjustment. Failure of the spouse to adjust to the new environment was given as the number one factor for premature returns. The number two reason was the employee's failure to adjust. Until recently, few studies had examined the adjustment of expatriate employees. The adjustment of expatriates' spouses has received even less attention. For this reason, the study of spouse adjustment offers a potential contribution to the field of international business, since it represents a major gap in the existing cross-cultural adjustment literature. This conceptual gap is the focus of the present research. If spouse adjustment is indeed related to expatriate adjustment and to the outcome of the international assignment, it is important to study the factors that facilitate or inhibit spouse cross-cultural adjustment. By doing so, organizations may gain critical knowledge for influencing the outcomes of international assignments and improve their human resource practices. In an effort to understand the factors that facilitate or inhibit spousal cross-cultural adjustment, this study will examine the role of different variables believed to influence the spouses' adjustment, on a group of expatriate spouses living in Switzerland.